Senate Republicans are calling on the state attorney general and the comptroller’s offices to review whether Democratic Sen. Darrel Aubertine, D-Jefferson County, violated state ethics laws when he briefly put his sister on his staff earlier this year.
The request comes after Aubertine’s sister, Debra Wiley, quietly this week tried to pay back about $1,900 in wages she earned during the 21 days she was employed by Aubertine, who brought her on after his upset victory to the Senate in a special election in February.
Senate Republicans said they are not in a position to accept a check from Wiley, and instead want Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to investigate whether any state laws were breached.
State ethics law, which Aubertine approved as a former North Country Assembly member last year, prohibits lawmakers in most cases from hiring family members. It also requires a legislator in violation to pay back the wages, not the worker, aides said. A violation of the law carries up a $40,000 fine, officials said.
Meanwhile, Democrats want Renzi to be investigated by state officials over whether he illegally received pension credits while serving as a part-time attorney for a North Country town.
Renzi’s service is being questioned amid ongoing investigations by Cuomo and DiNapoli into private attorneys being listed as public employees in order to receive taxpayer-funded perks, such as pensions and health benefits.
Renzi modified his position with the town after the state’s investigation began and no longer receives the benefits, aides said. Renzi was paying the town for the cost of the benefits, anyhow, aides said.
Oswego City Alderwoman Connie Cosemento, a Democrat, has written a letter to Cuomo asking him to investigate Renzi’s benefits.